National Geographic : 1968 Sep
EKTACHROMES BY U. S. AIR FORCE(BELOW)ANDHOWARDSOCHUREK(C N.G.S. Mercy bus of the air war, a Sikorsky HH-53B crosses strands of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the web of dirt roads that feeds men and munitions to Communists in South Viet Nam. Fliers call the craft Buffs-Big Ugly Fat Fellows. They nickname smaller HH-3E's Jolly Green Giants, after a vegetable cannery trademark. In a typical rescue operation, fighter escorts strafe to suppress ground 348 fire, and a circling tanker refuels choppers on long missions. "Rescue's my lifework," says Sgt. Kerry Kelley (left and preceding page). He has trained intensively in medicine, survival, and even scuba diving to save fliers downed at sea. Scorning danger, he and his fellow pararescuemen eagerly toss coins to decide who will descend first into enemy territory to help disabled airmen. Close to the action, rescue teams fly from forward bases at Udorn and Nakhon Phanom in Thailand, and Da Nang in South Viet Nam. For a large-scale map of this area, see Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, issued with the February, 1967, GEOGRAPHIC, and still obtainable. Paper map, $1.10; fabric, $2.30; index, 55 cents (postage paid).